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Illustration by Katie Ferreol

Registering to Vote: The Role of Youth in Philippine Politics

Documenting my experience in voter’s registration for the 2022 Philippine elections, I realize my duty not only as a Filipino citizen but as a youth educating others about the political process.

Nov 13, 2021

I always viewed politics in a negative light. Whether I am watching the news with my mother during dinner or scrolling through posts on my Facebook feed, I tune out the next corrupt act or unreasonable bill passed by a person in power. However, the Philippine Elections that will be held in 2022 will be the first time I will use my voice as a Filipino citizen. Having a president who has made headlines for cursing at government officials, holding inhumane extrajudicial killings against people in poverty and offering little to no solution for the pandemic, I wanted a fresh start for the Philippines –– a candidate that would serve as a beacon of hope to our country and our youth.
Realizing my duty as a citizen, I began to research the candidates running for President. Similar to other nations, political dynasties in the Philippines are dangerously influential. From bribing the poor into switching their vote to spewing lies to appeal to oblivious citizens, they will do anything to stay in power. Such patterns are evident with presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos, the son of the former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. From faking his college degree at Oxford, to misusing Congress funds for his own personal benefit and only making his mark as “Marcos’s son,” he has continually proved that he is unfit for pursuing a role in politics.
However, many are beginning to forget the Marcos family’s gruesome history, arguing how Bongbong Marcos is a completely different person from his father and will introduce a new era of success to the Philippines. Such historical erasure has proven to be highly effective, making Bongbong Marcos one of the top chosen candidates for the 2022 elections. This news came as a shock to me, especially after hearing firsthand accounts about the corruption his family brought on the Filipino people. When trying to get his supporters to see this, they would respond in anger, referencing fake news articles, spreading misinformation and calling me “too young” to understand.
Such behavior caused a national divide in a time where unity is essential and spurred me to complete my voter’s registration. Disappointingly, the insufficiencies of the Comelec department prevented me from doing so. Because I will be in New York when elections are held, I had to file an application for overseas transfer on top of the registration in Abu Dhabi. However, all points of contact for this transfer led to no avail. In my two months of repeated contact with the Abu Dhabi Embassy, New York Embassy and Philippine Comelec, I received no replies and my one chance to help my country turned void. I was in a state of disbelief: if this could happen to me, this has definitely happened to multiple overseas Filipino Workers and Filipino immigrants who are trying to use their voice to better our country. Only then was I hit with the sad reality of Philippine politics and how the disregard for the people’s voices was endangering us into a standstill instead of the progress we hoped for.
With every negative comment and unanswered email, my desire for a better future seemed farther away. During many of these instances, I let my anger control my emotions, easily shifting the blame of corruption onto the misinformed; however, this is exactly why this election is important. Our corrupt officials are responsible for our negligent government and social divisions, and yet they maintain a facade of kindness through flashy campaigns and “generous” monetary gifts. Appearing to be the sole savior to our declining situation, they appeal to unknowing Filipino citizens who have not been informed about their misdeeds. This skews our judgement and makes us turn a blind eye to the deceit and misconduct happening right under our noses.
With the 2022 elections determining the leader of our nation for the next six years, we do not have the luxury to forget history and risk making the wrong decision. As a Filipino youth, it is my duty to educate the current –– and maybe even future –– generations about the tragedy that has rocked our country and how we should use this as an incentive to choose what is right. Researching how to vote and educating myself on my choice of candidate has shown me the power I have as an individual: my vote could mean the difference between the prosperity or ruin of my nation.
Every child from the Global South is told by their parents to find a better life outside their country. Our faith has long dissipated with the string of corrupt leaders who care more about filling their pockets than the good of the nation. But being part of a generation that prides itself on its roots, we cannot let ourselves be taken advantage of by corrupt powers. As of September 2021, Filipino youth make up 52 percent of all registered voters. High school classmates are using their social media platforms to support their chosen candidate while colleagues at my internship are directing me toward information about the voting process for citizens abroad. Even though we are all at different points in our life, we have one thing that unites us —––our hope.
The youth bears the consequences of the government's actions. We hold a potential power that can greatly influence the outcome of our national elections; with voting, we are given the opportunity to choose how our nation will be run. For us, this is the biggest opportunity to contribute towards the future of the Philippines.
We can’t give up just yet. Not when there is a sliver of hope in our future.
Katie Ferreol is a contributing writer. Email them at
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